By Mark Rasdall
Saturday sees the latest in a brief series of football encounters between Leeds United and Yeovil Town. There have been few meetings between these two clubs to date and, in the heyday of the great Leeds United teams, such a fixture would not only have been considered to be a mismatch but surely some kind of mistake by the schedulers.
We last played them away in April 2010 and won 2.1 on our way to promotion from League One. The only Football League team from Somerset, Yeovil were themselves promoted to the Championship for the first time in their history after beating Brentford 2.1 in last season's Play-Off Final. Their rise up the leagues has been spectacular in recent seasons though it took them 108 years to enter the Football League which they did in 2003.
Perhaps known best for FA Cup giant killing (notably Sunderland in 1949 - always good for LUFC supporters) and their former ground - Huish - which had a famous slope to the pitch, they are now seeking further league success and that mission continues at Elland Road this weekend.
Having taking time to adjust to the higher level, they beat Forest 3.1 last week which will have done their confidence no harm at all and manager Gary Johnson is suggesting that an early goal for them will silence the Leeds United fans. Well, your fans aren't going to silence us, Gary; no opposition supporters could ever even dream of doing that but you might just get an early goal.
Having got in front against Huddersfield Town so early in last week's derby game and then clawed our way back into it, there was no getting away from poor defending once again. The horrors of Millwall and Derby County are clearly not too far away and much has been talked about our defence again on Leeds United forums this week.
We all thought the 3-5-2 formation which demolished Birmingham City might just provide the strategic platform Brian McDermott has been looking for. It still might be but basic defending remains the bedrock of any team's consistent success and clearly this is still a work-in-progress. However, with good performances and especially wins, confidence will grow if we are all patient and stick with it. I imagine we might see the new Lithuanian international defender Marius Zaliukas playing some part on Saturday though. Apparently he had a storming match for the Development Squad against Barnsley in midweek and already seems more Lucas than Roque.
The real problem for me, though, is reputation. We assumed we would beat Huddersfield last week as no more than county neighbours on the fringes of a West Yorkshire we dominate. Many are already assuming a heavy defeat of the yokels from the countryside this weekend. We have to get away from this. I grew up with the great Leeds team as so many of us did. Even Wilkinson's and O'Leary's Leeds United football teams (let's not mention the management) suffered by comparison, often because of this same 'big club' reputation. It can only cause pressure for everyone at the club in trying to deliver 'certainty' in a game where uncertainty provides its biggest excitement for fans up and down the country. In turn we fans just become more stressed and disproportionately demoralised if things don't pan out the way we were assured they would.
Yes, Yeovil will be out to slay one of the great former giants of the game but we have to build and grow our club to become contemporary giants once again. Yeovil have every right to be playing at Elland Road and I am looking forward to a good, competitive match. I do think we will have too much for them but let Brian's team do the talking for us, especially from back to front (hope that doesn't sound too daft?). Let's then hope that Yeovil's players return to the West Country with a point made but no points in their collective bag.
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